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Submitted by Kelso Sturgeon on Tuesday, September 4, 2012 at 12:48 PM

Though there is still a lot of uncertainty about how replacement referees will impact the first week of regular season action in the NFL….I’m very confident of one thing based on what I saw during Weeks Two and Three of Preseason action. The existence of replacement referees is going to help PLAYMAKERS and GAMEBREAKERS put points on the scoreboard.

Scoring totals shot way up in exhibition action when the best players were on the field. This wasn’t a big deal in the first week when superstars were only on the field for a series or two. And, it wasn’t much of a factor in Game Four for everyone because so many teams sit their starters completely to avoid injury. But, in those middle games, we saw a lot of big plays and Overs when the stars were getting a good amount of action.

Why? There were many reasons in my view:

*Replacement refs are afraid to call holding on offensive lines except in the most obvious cases. This gives quarterbacks time to find open receivers. You give elite quarterbacks time to throw, and they’ll put up monster numbers.

*Replacement refs are afraid to bring a big play back because of an illegal block. Let’s say a runner breaks through a hole and scoots to daylight. Experienced veteran refs will call a hold or a block in the back if that’s what sprung the runner. They aren’t afraid to take heat from the crowd or coaches for making that call. Replacement refs don’t want to get in the way of the game, and aren’t confident enough to argue with coaches or deal with an angry crowd. Replacement refs want to stay invisible. Keeping the hanky in their pocket on plays like that helps them to do so.

*Replacement refs are likely to defer to veterans who complain about anything on the field. There’s just no way somebody in stripes from small college football is going to tell Tom Brady or Peyton Manning to shut up. Veteran offensive stars will be able to influence things to their liking in a way that isn’t possible when grizzled veterans are on the field. That’ s just human nature. Longtime refs want to establish who’s the boss. Replacement refs know they’re not really the boss, and they don’t want to make any waves.

The use of instant replay can’t do anything to fix this. If there’s a mistake on a scoring play…that can be fixed by replay. If there’s a debate on a turnover, we’ll go to the booth. But, if offensive holding is going to be allowed…then nobody can do anything about it!

These will be the ramifications that Advanced Handicappers must deal with:

*Even though we already put a lot of weight on PLAYMAKERS and GAMEBREAKERS in our process, they will become even MORE important now. Teams with clear edges in this department will win even bigger, meaning we can play more favorites and be more aggressive with our betting when a favorite has a clear edge. Victory margins that would normally be in the 8-15 range may double.

*Underdogs with more impact players on offense (this is less common but does happen), now deserve even more consideration for moneyline bets to win outright. They will be more likely to win the game than the market will give them credit for. You have to think about ways to maximize your value with live underdogs.

*Overs will be a smart play when two loaded teams go against each other. Most of my 50-Unit and 100-Unit plays are on team sides rather than totals in the NFL. I may have to re-think that approach until the lockout ends because some totals will be destined to win so easily. You saw that in the dress rehearsal games a couple of weeks ago. Oddsmakers will lift their totals from those numbers…but aren’t likely to lift enough to reflect the new reality.

Now, you still have to handicap every game as it comes. If rain is in the forecast, you don’t want to load up on the Over. And, you don’t want to get crazy with Overs in games where there are question marks at quarterback. Not all teams will be able to take advantage evenly. Be sure you’re looking for PLAYMAKER mismatches that you can exploit for team side plays…and possibilities for explosions where both teams move the ball up and down the field with authority.

I’ll talk more about the first week of NFL action the next time we’re together on Friday. Don’t forget that the season starts on WEDNESDAY this year when the Dallas Cowboys visit the New York Giants in a game to be televised nationally on NBC. If you’d like some help handicapping pro football this year, you can sign up for my service right here at this very website with your major credit card. Of course, college football and Major League Baseball are available as well.

Many of you were with us all summer here in my College of Advanced Handicapping. But, I can also tell that a large influx of “football only” sports bettors have returned after a summer break. It’s great to have all of you back. I’m very much looking forward to guiding you through the coming season as the Dean of Sports Handicapping. I would encourage you “football only” handicappers to check the summer archives here at the website so you can review our discussions about preparation for the coming season. That information will still hold true right now heading into Week One of the NFL and Week Two of the colleges.

If you’ve been struggling on your own during football in recent years, maybe it’s time for a “replacement handicapper!” My name is Kelso Sturgeon, and I’ve made a living in this field for decades. Let me show you how to win.

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